Eastern Philosophy: The Quest for Happiness


What if you could always be happy? Do you think that’s even possible? If so, how? 2,500 years ago, philosophers in India and China were asking themselves these questions, and their answers may surprise you. Using the novel The Circle of Happiness and the accompanying Travel Guide to the Circle of Happiness, we will go on a quest together for the meaning of happiness, encountering along the way the ideas of influential eastern philosophers such as the Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tzu. We will also dive into the vibrant historical period known as the Axial Age, a time when philosophical activity flourished all over Asia and Europe. Throughout the course we will explore our own personal idea of happiness and debate whether or not we think these philosophers were onto something. If you’ve ever wondered what Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Confucian, or Daoist philosophy is all about, this is the class for you! This course will include reading assignments, short writing assignments, and other projects. You’ll have the opportunity to finish with a creative project to share what you learned on your own quest for happiness.


Ingrid Klass

Class Details

Live Class: No

Frequency: This is not a live class, but through the Moodle classroom there will be many opportunities for discussion and interaction. Every Monday the online classroom will list the assignments, resources, and activities for that week. This will always include reading one to two chapters from our texts and optional fun videos or other resources. Each week you will also be asked to complete various activities based on the reading, such as writing responses to questions, contributing to class wikis, or discovering creative ways to think about the material. Any questions you have about the reading can be submitted by Thursday morning of each week, and I’ll answer them by Friday evening (sooner if you have them sooner!). All required assignments are due the following Monday morning.

Student Support:
Instructor is available by email.

Feedback will be provided on written responses and other substantial assignments.

Students will need to purchase the books The Circle of Happiness and the Travel Guide to the Circle of Happiness from Royal Fireworks Press.

Students should be able to read at a fifth-grade level and participate in course activities via the Moodle classroom, including submitting thoughtful written responses. The course reading and activities are layered so that students at a variety of levels will have a substantive learning experience.

For Suggested Ages:
This course is geared toward children ages 14 to 18, although any student who meets the prerequisites is welcome to enroll.

Approximate weekly time allotment:
2-3 hours